Why, hello, darling sweetie pie! 🙂
So, you are wondering how to have enough time in a day so you could get things done and also have the pleasure to enjoy some moments to yourself?
(pssst… when you get to that part, you can visit and read 25 Things To Do By Yourself -For Free- for some inspiration to get you started)
I guess you know the feeling when you just wake up, but before you know it, the day has almost come to an end?
You look back and realize that (yet another) day has passed, and it hasn’t been productive as you hoped to be.
Sure, you did some work, ran from one place to another, juggled a million and one small tasks (both at work and at home), but the sour feeling of dissatisfaction still remains.
“If I could only have more time…” you may be thinking.
And you’re not alone in that thought.
I’ve been there as well.
What’s more, I’d still be at the same spot if I haven’t realized what I need to change.
Here are my 9 secrets which help me make (and have) more time in each day.
They help me so much to be not only more productive but also overall satisfied by the day behind me.
Work according to your priorities
I started the day and followed along as it goes, doing what at the moment seemed the most appropriate.
Needless to say, this approach resulted in poor time management, and lack of focus (and action!) on the really important stuff.
But it was somehow manageable until the kids came in my life (and my to-do list exploded in a speed of light).
So I was forced to make a change that works for me.
What did I change?
First of all, I sat down and got my priorities straight.
I know it doesn’t sound epochal, but you would be amazed to realize how much time we actually spend on irrelevant tasks and activities, even though we claim to know what our priorities are.
Knowing your priorities alone won’t do the trick, though.
It’s not enough to say “Yep, those are my priorities!”, and then just leave them as they are and go with the flow.
You need to consciously have them on your mind, so you could intentionally choose a task which aligns with your life priorities (and your goals, eventually).
Name your goals
The next step is to define goals with your priorities on a mind.
Whether you’ll set the goals just for the day ahead or maybe for the next year is up to you, though.
It depends on your personal preferences.
However, I strongly suggest you create a goal at least for the month ahead.
By making long(er)-term goals which resonate with your ambitions and passions will help you lead a more fulfilling life.
(however, I’m not a fan of 5, 10 or even longer-term year goals, and as you can see, there’s a good reason why)
I guess you don’t want someday to find yourself feeling bitter and frustrated for spending your life only on making somebody else’s visions come true (while yours was forgotten and left behind)?
I myself am satisfied with having a rough sketch of yearly goals (nothing too elaborative in there, because they inevitably tend to transform and morph over time).
Then I make a 2-3 months mini-goals for them (that’s where I dive deep).
So, my mini-goals for that period become my “main” ones.
(I’ve even made goal setting & tracking worksheets so I could easily plan out and follow the steps)
The next step comes as a logical consequence…
Make a list of actions
Now that you defined your goals, the next step is to chop those goals into smaller, more easy to follow (and achieve), action steps.
This is what I include in my to-do list.
It also helps me to:
- have a focus – by knowing exactly what specific tasks I need to do,
- have motivation – because they are (mostly) easy to get done,
- keep my sanity – they help me not to get (too) wild or overboard, I’m trying to follow the minimal-input-maximal-impact format when making these action steps, however, it’s still a work in progress… 🙂
To be totally honest with you, I’m making this list on a weekly basis, which by itself is a little time saver.
(you can straight away tell I’m the type of person which favors a weekly planner over a daily one)
So with the beginning of the new week, I’m all already prepared and know what awaits me ahead.
If you’re unsure which type of list would work the best for you (and to get a quick overview of their pros and cons) I think you’ll find the post Daily Vs Weekly To Do List And Which One Perfectly Fits You to be quite useful.
Decide on how many tasks you can work on in a day
If you can predict your week really good in advance, you could define the exact action items you will do in each day throughout the week the same day when you write out the list of action steps.
That is THE best way to do to be maximally effective with the time (if it can be pulled off).
However, being a full-time employed + having 2 small kids + blogging + taking care of a household and the yard (all by myself), this approach just doesn’t work for me (wow, what a surprise?!).
The only thing I’ve learned by having kids is that (basically) – you never know!
Never know what might happen all of a sudden, and therefore even the best plans might just run down the toilet.
So for the time being, my best way to organize myself is to make the plan for the day either late in the evening the night before or in the morning on the same day.
I actually like that rhythm, it allows me enough flexibility and I still manage to get things done (more or less successful 🙂 ).
Sometimes, the kids are sick, or I wake up totally tired, or I just don’t have the creative vibe on a specific day.
And that’s ok with me.
I don’t want to force myself to work (well, any more than I have to, that is).
When such day comes, I don’t work on some high-mentally-demanding time-consuming tasks.
I’m trying to go through that day in a low-activity mode, and create more “me time” to relax and recharge, so I could be super-productive the next day.
(smart, huh? 😉 )
That way just by rearranging the tasks to match the level of energy, motivation and the time I have in a day, I manage to successfully achieve the tasks for the week.
I do have to add a little note here.
Keep it real regarding the time you need to invest in work on the specific task, so plan accordingly.
Don’t overbook yourself.
Also, take into account the distractions (and the time losses consequently) which may show up.
(and check out the tips I have on dealing with “urgencies” which tend to jump into your day in a random manner)
This one goes without saying if you’re a solopreneur, work at home mom, huh?
(but still, I just HAD TO add that note!)
Speed it up
If you want to get the job done faster (and hence, gain more free time by the end of the day), you should do it quicker (to a certain reasonable amount, of course).
I’m not joking about this one.
Try to figure out the ways you could make your regular work tasks become faster.
Or, when I think better, this can go for any other activity in a day. 🙂
For instance, I walk fast. I mean, REALLY fast!
So if an average person needs 10-15 minutes to get to some place, I can do the same thing in a double less time (no joke!).
This one not only saves me the time, but it serves me as a form of exercise, too.
So, for an example, if you’re regularly typing on a computer, or preparing a meal, or folding the laundry (yes, these are all tasks which take time, as well!), even talking on the phone, or doing any other job, try to do it just a little bit faster (for a start).
My point is – little by little, it can sum up to a meaningful amount of time which you could use in any way you want to (and isn’t that great? 😉 ).
However, sometimes having the speed alone is not enough.
When it comes to the more intellectually demanding tasks, you really need to have one additional component.
And that is what comes next…
You got it all perfectly planned out, you try to do it as fast as you can, but somehow… it’s just not working!
If you’re lucky, by the end of the day you’ve done half of your to-do list items, and you decide to transfer the rest for tomorrow
So, what is missing here?
And I’m talking laser-sharp focus on the action, baby!
Try to mentally exclude all other inputs which may buzz through your head or those real distractions from the surroundings.
Pick the time in a day which serves this purpose the best for you (the one with minimal distractions possible).
Or, if you can’t seem to get focus because of the noise from your surroundings (from the street outside, or the room next to yours), turn on some neutral music to mask it, or even use earplugs to create complete silence.
Maybe even talking to yourself will do the trick?
Anyhow, this focus-approach helps me so much when doing my stuff.
You’d be amazed how much work can be done just by being totally focused on it, even for a small amount of time.
After you did your best, and the concentration starts to diminish, it’s time for the next tip…
Use pockets of time to your advantage
“Uhm… sure, but… what do you mean by it?” you may wonder.
By pockets of time, I’m thinking about those few minutes we all have between some bigger tasks.
Those are the moments when we begin to lose focus, and mentally wander, or even decide it’s time to do the next thing.
But until we actually start the next “big project”, there are usually at least a couple of minutes when you simply – don’t do a thing.
It’s true it could be considered as a time to unwind, and it’s a fact we all need some, but I think it would be way better to use this time more wisely so that later on you could have more time (in a continuum) for relaxation and/or fun instead.
So try to stop wasting these pockets of time by doing nothing.
Make a really small effort and jump into some easy, fast, and no-brainer activity which is anyway on your to-do (or should-do) list instead.
Personally, I like to mix a little housework with more mentally demanding tasks.
Like this stuff right now.
When I end this post, I’ll pick up a few items from the floor and put them in place (dang! when will the kids become tidier?!), take a few sips of coffee and briefly check social media accounts.
And then it’s time for the next big activity!
See what I mean?
You can organize your pockets of time to match your specific needs and demands.
Give it a try and see what works the best for you.
Be clear about the time you want to set aside to relax, unwind and enjoy
This one also comes down to the question of your priorities.
The thing is, if you don’t see having the time for yourself as an important asset, it just becomes natural not to have it.
You know, it’s the “But I have to do all this work first…” mindset.
However, if you constantly think that way, there is no way on this planet Earth (or any other place in the Universe, as a matter of fact) you’ll get the time to yourself, or any other “free” moment you wish to have.
And somehow (at least to my personal experience and the experience of the people who surround me), this particular task seems to be the most difficult one for moms.
Because we want to make it all look and function well.
We want the house to look good, the kids and the spouse to be happy, to have a healthy meal prepared, clean rooms, full fridge, tidy living space… while also managing the jobs we have.
So you see, there are a zillion and one item which would come in place prior to our own time to relax and unwind.
But this is a HUUUGE mistake.
This mindset should be changed ASAP, or you’re risking a complete burnout and a personal dissatisfaction in the long run.
Trust me on this one! I’ve been there (guilty as charged!)…
But, as you can see, it can be overcome! (yep! I’m a reformed person now! 🙂 )
Get clear you want (and need, and deserve!) time for yourself in each day.
It’s up to you whether it will be in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, or in the evening.
Pick the one time which suits you the best, which helps you feel recharged and fresh.
Put it in your planner, if necessary, but just do it!
You’ll notice how much that time means to your overall health, happiness, and energy level.
The best of all is that it doesn’t have to take too much time to get such an effect.
Sometimes, even 15 to 30 minutes will do the trick (or even less!).
The final “secret” for having the extra time?
You got to have the discipline to pull everything said in here into life.
Some days will be easier, while there will be days when it will seem like an impossible mission.
Either way, it’s fine, as long as you keep these things in mind and implement them on a (more or less) regular basis, you’ll be ok.
And you’ll rock your days, there’s no doubt in my mind!
Got it all? Great!
Enjoy in the “extra” time gained, you deserved it!
P.S. If you have some tip/tips of your own on how you find the additional time in a day, I would love to know about them (you know, share them below in the comments section…).